Tillamook reforest plan

Four Tillamook High School students plant seedlings as part of a high school Natural Resources Advanced Class. Here, Jon Wehage of Stimson Lumber oversees the work of student Katie Jenck.

TILLAMOOK, Ore. — A Tillamook High School natural resources program is in the final  stages of completing a harvest and replanting project coordinated with ag and forestry industry partners in the area.

Four students enrolled in the high school’s Natural Resources Advance Class spent the recent Valentine’s Day helping replant 37 acres of a 72-acre parcel of land owned by the Tillamook County Creamery Association, and located east of the creamery’s iconic visitor’s center.

Working alongside them on the project were the TCCA and several other members of the high school program’s advisory board, including Hampton Lumber, Stimson Lumber, the Tillamook School District and the Northwest Regional Education Service District.

The TCCA plot contained tracts of Western hemlock and Sitka spruce. It was surveyed, marked, and inventoried over the past two years by the students, with oversight and labor from those community partners, then planted recently with the same two tree varieties as well as Western red cedar.

Lori Loeffler, Natural Resources Program teacher at Tillamook High School, said the TCCA approached the school in the fall of 2016 with a proposal to give her classes “the opportunity to run a harvest unit from start to finish.”

Loeffler’s classes are part of a career technical education that “recognizes that students learn better when you have a combination of hands-on work and classroom instruction.”

“The goal is to produce workers that have the skills our community partners are looking for to fill the jobs that they have,” she said. Her classes have allowed students to “gain hands-on practical forestry experience.”

Dave Kunert is a division forester for Hampton Lumber in Tillamook, which helped oversee the tree inventory on the plot during the early stages of the project in 2016. His company and the others came together in the fall of 2016 for the purpose, he explained, of “giving real life experiences to (Loeffler’s) students.”

“We were looking for projects to grow their knowledge of the industry,” he said, and signed on to the program to evaluate the timber stand, ribbon off boundaries of trees and riparian areas and wetlands, and other basic forestry functions.

The partnering organizations also spent time in Loeffler’s classroom, presenting information about their profession and taking students on job shadows.

Before Liam Powers, 17, a junior, entered the program, he said he had been looking to get into an “art-based career” after high school.

“But I got into a 6th period natural resources class and I soon figured out that what I wanted to do is become a natural resources or forestry instructor for high school,” he said.

“I think (the program) helped me get on my grades because now I have something that motivates me to keep my grades up,” he added. “This year I have had one B and the rest all A’s.”

Future students will monitor and collect data in their study area to determine whether spraying herbicides is beneficial for optimal tree growth, Loeffler said.

“(Her classes) will continue to cruise the entire 72-acre property, assisting TCCA in maintaining the health of the forest and wetlands.”

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